Saturday 25 January 2020

BAM #13

After what seemed like a slow start to 2020, I managed to cook up some adventure. Yes indeed, Jamie and I went for a wild camp. This was my first camp of 2020 and my 13th consecutive BAM (Bivy-A-Month). 
So pleased I managed to complete this camp as it very nearly didn't happen. After making initial plans, some of my friends dropped out just days before the planned date due to sickness, travel and work. (For what it's worth, I'm sick of work and would like to travel). Anyways, Jamie was still up for some adventure, so adventure we did!
We cycled to somewhere near the Heart of England Forest and then hike-a-biked for a spell. Soggy, muddy ground and some incline finally led to a near perfect camp spot. Without further ado, we set up camp. Then we cooked in the great outdoors using my new super-ace frying pan and washed down our grub with some fluid. Delicious. Morrison's Cumberland sausages and a mouthful of JD is hard to beat.
On this occasion, both Jamie and I were using Rab 'Ridge Raider' bivy's. I have used a lot of different bivy's to date and highly rate this one. The fabric feels really nice and tough - not quite as tough as my army Gore-Tex bivy but not far off, and much lighter and less bulky. It's about 3 x the weight and size of my Outdoor Research Helium Bivy but still light and this bag did not condensate and has a very impressive 'head' section that is wide and opens nicely (not clam like). Unlike some of my other shelters, this is fully hooped too. Jamie thinks the bag could be improved by having some loops at the foot section to lift it and make the end box like. All in all, I think this is my favourite bivy to date.
Always great to adventure with Jamie. First month of the year has proved a bit stressy for us both in terms of work. We were pleased to be away from our jobs, chilling out and catching up.
Slept reasonably well throughout the night. Was awoken on a couple of occasions to the sound of a fox barking (sounded like he was really near to my shelter, I bet he could smell the sausages) and an owl hooting. I'm sure I heard the odd snore from Jamie's direction too!

When morning came it was still dark and misty. We cooked the final sausages and washed them down with a tasty Jasmine green tea. Once we had packed up camp, it was nice to see the clear views as day light had now appeared. Such a beautiful spot! As we went our way, heading home, we saw a couple of deer skip off in the opposing direction.

On reflection, this month of January hasn't been so bad at all. I have managed to keep up with my challenges and have completed a ParkRun, a BAM and a 200k cycle. Sure, work is a drag and I haven't cycled much commute-wise but I have completed goals for the month. In addition to that, my family life has been pretty awesome and my kids and wife have kept me entertained too!

Wednesday 8 January 2020

Mr Pickwick's January Sale (2020)

Wow, a week into the New Year has passed already. Pleased to report that in the first week of the year, I managed to complete a ParkRun, a commute and a 200k audax. Am hoping to complete a wild camp before the month is out.

The audax I completed was 'Mr Pickwick's January Sale', a 200k event organised by none other than Mark Rigby. Have completed this event a few times over now - in torrential rain, in freezing conditions. This time around the weather was kind but unlike over times, I cycled this event solo.

It was dark when we all set off (this was a calendar event, so many participated, just none of my mates) at the crazy hour of 7 a.m. Tewkesbury was quiet and it was nice seeing the streets lit up with cycle lights. First stage took us to Chaddesley Corbett cycling roads that I often cycle with my buddy Roger.

Next stage passed through Bromsgrove and cycled up and over Cobley Hill. So close to home, yet so far away. Lunch stop was at M40 services.
Awful selfie at a cake stop
Leaving services the lung busting Edge hill was climbed. Not a particularly menace hill to be fair at only 14%, but hard enough. Much of the Cotswolds was cycled before reaching Chipping Norton for a tea and cake stop.

More Cotswold ups and downs until the major down hill of Soudley into Winchcombe. Such a menace that my dynamo light stopped working - thankfully had a helmet light. A few miles took me to the arrivee following a gentle traverse across the Severn Vale.

All in all, a pretty perfect audax. Probably cycle this event again in 2021. At little over a £1, a great January Sale!

Thursday 2 January 2020

So long, farewell 2019. Let's hope 2020 is a year of plenty!


Wow, we've made it to the year 2020. I do hope this year proves to be awesome for everyone reading my blog. Here's to hoping you have a year of amazing adventure.
I have lots of hopes, dreams and goals for this year and I'm happy to share these with you all. Maybe some of you will join me on my adventures? Maybe not? Let's take a look at last years adventure and see if you think I've lost the plot..

My goals for 2019 were as follows (with comments added in blue):

  • Cycle frequently. Cycle with buddies and solo. Commute by bicycle. Completed this goal.
  • Cycle 10,000k before end of year. Was nearly 2,000k short of this goal. Managed to complete a mere 8,034k.
  • Wild Camp. In fact, attempt to bivvy-a-month (BAM). Woo Hoo! Had so much fun completing this challenge.
  • Search the Scriptures more thoroughly than last year. Add interesting quotes/thoughts to my blog. Only partially completed this goal. 
  • Run more Park Runs. Try a Park Run I have never ran before. Run a Park Run with my wife.  Not sure when it became a challenge, but I did challenge myself to complete a ParkRun each month for the 12 months of the year. I dubbed this challenge 'PAM' (ParkRun a month), however, many commented that it should have been called PRAM. This challenge was completed, however, I didn't have my barcode with me on my final run and heard the words 'no barcode, no result'. Hmmm.
  • Run 500k before end of year. Close but no cigar as they say. I managed to run 484k in total.
  • Complete the Fort William 1000 audax (my 'big' event for 2019). Cycled this event but did not finish. In my opinion, this was a poor event. I cycled 2 shorter events, namely the Giants Tooth (500k) and Moonrakers and Sunseekers (300k) which were amazing events and more than made up for the Fort William 1000.
  • Eat less, drink less, adventure more. I think I ate more, drank more and adventured enough. I'm not gonna check my weight this year.
  • Be the best lover, husband, father that I can. Well, I'm still in love. Still married. Got a crazy couple of kids.
I like to reflect on my records at the end/beginning of a year and presented below is a list of my annual cycling and running distances (km, followed by miles in brackets). Some of my 'big events' are high-lighted in red and may take you there should you click (as it's a link).

2009 - 5,086 (3,160) LEJOG 2009
2011 - 8,378 (5,207)   PBP 2011
2012 - 6,935 (4,309)

2013 - 12,498 (7,766) LEL 2013

2014 - 9,253 (5,750)
2015 - 5,531 (3,436) and Ran 1,170 (727)
2016 - 6,515 (4,048) and Ran 1,204 (748) Iron Man (Bolton) 2016/TNR 2016
2017 - 8,940 (5,555) and Ran 514 (319)
2018 - 10,958 (6,809) and Ran 417 (259) TransAtlantic Way Race 2018
2019 - 8,034 (4,992) and Ran 484 (301) Bivy-A-Month 2019

My greatest achievement of 2019 was completing the Bivy-A-Month (BAM) challenge. Below is a series of photo's taken for each of the months. The series of photo's ends with my well earned roundel.

January 2019 - Rob Dog's cooker now a thing of the past
February 2019 - Lovely dip in which to kip. How we danced before the moon...
March 2019 - solo camp in a church porch
April 2019 - In the Harry Potter tarp!
May 2019
June 2019
July 2019 - Fried breakfast is always aces in the wild outdoors
Aug 2019 - Trying out the new Helium Bivy
Sept 2019 - 6 camping out!
October 2019 - camping far away from home
November 2019 - Best camp spot to date (IMO)
Dec 2019 - challenge complete!
Can now wear this badge with pride :)
I ended 2019 by cycling a permanent audax event - the Brum 200. Had cycled this event before with Louy B and Toll, however, this time around was a solo affair. Started the New Year by running Straford-Upon-Avon ParkRun. Completing both these events helped me create my goals for 2020 which are as follows:

  • Bivvy-A-Month for as long as I can. I have completed the challenge, just need to see how long I can keep this going for. 
  • ParkRun-A-Month. I will dub this new challenge 'PRAM' and have completed the first month already. This was a slow run, after cycling 200k the day before and drinking too much whisky to let the new year in. My time was 28:51 and I finished 425/721. It was so congested there was lots of stopping and starting.
  • Complete the TransAlba Race. This is my 'big event' for 2020. This is essentially a self-supported cycling ride around Scotland which covers over 1,000 miles and has 50,000 plus metres of climbing. I've entered this as a pair (of idiots) - Mr McLeod will be cycling this with me.
  • Complete another Randonneur Round the Year (RRTY). This is a cycling challenge that requires a BR or BRM (audax language) event to be ridden in each of 12 successive calendar months. This can be started in any month, but a month can't be missed. I've got a head start on this as I have already cycled a 200k event each month since November. I have completed this challenge 4 times previously, however, there is a social reward for RRtY X 5.
I'm not going to challenge myself to be a better person. I do, however, hope I can be the best person I can. I know what is required of me - 'only to do justly, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with thy God' (Micah 6:8).

Happy New Year 2022

Happy New Year folks. I wonder what's in store for 2022,  - something crazy, something new? It's a shame Covid is still here and I&#...